The thematic thread that I sought to explore this year was escape. This subject caught my attention because of how escape comes in many forms and varies from person to person. Personally, I tend to escape by daydreaming, sleeping, or turning to my hobbies in order to take a mental break from my responsibilities, as a refresher, or as a way to relieve stress. However, my escape leaves my responsibilities behind and results in procrastination. Because I have experienced escape personally, I thought that it would be rather interesting to look into it more in depth.
Often when people look at escape, they look at how the escape happens and what happens after that escape, or the effects. The varying effects of these escapes is what I wanted to look into, resulting in my questions revolving around how our escape affects us. Often when people choose to escape physically or psychologically, it is because they want change. Their escape can result in the change that they seek or desire, however this change can also cause undesirable effects on themselves.
The variety of effects that people could possibly deal with after their escape, comes from what they experience uring their escape. Escape is different for many individuals, but it has a similar theme with the majority, change. People escape because they want to change their situation, to be free of their current predicament. This is because we value our freedom above all else, causing us to fear the feeling of being trapped and want to escape that feeling. When our freedom is taken away, we begin to feel caged in and look for an escape or change that will give us back our freedom.
However, our loss of freedom can negatively affect us after we gain it back. Room by Emma Donoghue is an excellent example of this. Ma and Jack are imprisoned inside of Room for years with no escape and no freedom of their own. Ma is the one to notice how their imprisonment is affecting them, resulting in her desire to escape to be rekindled, as she feels that their lack of freedom has started to take too much of an affect on Jack. This is first noticeable when Ma talks with Jack about why they need to escape Room, “Don’t you want to escape?.
It’s getting too small… You don’t even know what it’s doing to you… You need to see things, touch thing. (Donoghue 113) However, this all changes when Jack and Ma’s plan to escape works. But once they escape, Ma and Jack face a whole new set of problems ranging from social reintegration to cognitive distortions. Because Ma and Jack didn’t have much human interaction, limited space, and societies rules, it resulted in them have this range of affects, making it especially harder for Jack to adjust to society.
The experience in Room is what made Jack confused about what freedom really meant, such as being able to get more clothes, eat more food, and not have to rely on Sunday treat for new items. His own new found freedom caused him to want to go back Room where he knew how everything worked. As humans, we dislike the darker parts of our world and society, as well as the problems we face, which leads to our desire to escape the situation. However, the effects of such escapes vary on the situation.
Within The Awakening, Edna disliked her current predicament of being a housewife who must tend to matters of the house and care for the children singlehandedly. However, since such responsibilities are in place due to societal norms, Edna isn’t allowed the freedom to do as she desires, but hat her husband desires since the submission of women was a common norm of society. Because of her oppressions, Edna escapes her duties as given by society, by “going and coming as it suited her fancy,” (Chopin 57) effectively neglecting her responsibilities.
The result of her escape was a positive effect on herself, as she was able to gain independence from her husband and have the freedom to voice her sexuality and desires. However, her newfound freedom affected a few of her relationships negatively, as they disagreed with Edna’s rebellion against societal norms. A different effect of escaping such dark parts of our world would be physiological effects such as cognitive performance. Jack experiences such effects after he escapes Room, when he is walking or going down the stairs.
Because Jack lived in Room his whole life, he lacks the cognitive performance needed to travel around in a vastly larger world, resulting in him tripping and falling. Jack’s lack in cognitive performance is not as severe or hurtful as Edna’s relationships begin to fall apart, but both are possible effects from two very different types of escape. This shows that not all escapes result in the same effects, but that such results are caused by their experience. Both Edna’s and Ma and Jack’s escapes resulted in freedom, but the effects of such freedom are vastly different.
Even though our escape is personal and individual, our society plays a role in the effects of our escape. The reason why we experience different effects of our escapes is because of the different pressures we feel from society. Society played a strong role in the cause for Edna’s escape in The Awakening, when societies norms and rules caused Edna to feel suppressed. The societal norm that women take care of the household and family was not of any interest to Edna, but she was forced to uphold these duties because of how her husband and society both would disapprove of her actions should she not comply.
When Edna escaped these responsibilities, multiple characters told her to return to societies ways, and to stop going against such societal norms by going back and caring for her children. However, such pressures from her peers to return to how things used to be was too much for Edna, as she didn’t want to return hat way of life, but also didn’t want her children to grow up without a mother or with a mother with an awful reputation.
Because Edna couldn’t do either without sacrificing her freedom or her family, she decided to drown herself, as she couldn’t bear to live a life with freedom while sacrificing her family or living for her family with no freedom at all. This kind of situation is similar to the real world in how society can push people to commit suicide with its many rules that oppress us as people and the freedom we have in how we can act or conduct ourselves. Such ocietal pressures cause people to take the easy way out, by escaping their problems.
Because it’s easier, because [you] don’t / [have] to think” (Halperin 2-3) such escapes are caused. Not all escapes caused by societies pressures end in death, but it is one effect of such escapes. Another effect of societies pressure or rules can be seen in how Ma is looked at as odd when she continues to breastfeed Jack at the age of five and when Jack is scolded for touching his cousin’s private parts. Society’s rules were in effect immediately after Ma and Jack escaped, judging their every move.
Many undesirable situations are the root cause of our desire to escape, such as a loss of freedom, which causes our escape to instigate a change in such situations. However, our escape does not come without consequence, resulting in the multitude of effects that have the possibility to take place. It is cause and effect, because we escape to change course or to gain back what was lost, we cause a chain of events to happen that results in ourselves being effected by our actions. I have also discovered that society plays a much bigger role than initially anticipated, in our own escapes.
Society has become the puppet master that pulls the strings behind the scenes, which can affect us all negatively. I think that my exploration of the effects of escape is relevant and important because escape is not exclusive to a select few individuals, but rather the whole world. It becomes even more important when our society can cause our escapes to become suicide. Escapes are a factor for change, but when that change is death, the question of whether the escape is worth it comes up. Escapes should not result in lethal consequences, but fixable and workable effects where we have the capacity to live.